Last updated 8 July 2020
We know many of you are wondering what is the situation with COVID-19 in Indonesia. You might have questions such as, ‘Will it be safe to travel to Indonesia when international travel reopens?’ and ‘What steps have been taken to limit the spread of the disease?’. We thought that providing the latest information about COVID in Indonesia would help give you some of the answers to questions such as these.
Dedicated Covid-Info Email Addrress
We have setup a dedicated email to answer any questions that you may have about COVID, visa requirements, which area is open for diving, etc. Just email us direct on Covid-Info@TwoFishDivers.com
What is the situation at our locations?
Both Lembeh & Bunaken have been closed for diving anyway since mid-March/early-April – any diving we do (eg lock-down guests in Lembeh and reef-clean in Bunaken) had to have local government approval.
At the moment our Lembeh resort is only open to the current guests who have been locking-down with us for 2mths. The government has in fact recently added curfews on arrivals into Bitung which means its hard to enter Bitung/Lembeh, and they also have similar restrictions for Manado meaning its hard to enter Bunaken.
Also just last week they closed Manado airport so no flights can arrive either.
All these measures are obviously temporary and we are not sure when they will change, but hopefully in the next 1-2 weeks.
The regional government has opened Gili Island for tourism starting with 20 June, and South Lombok as of 23 June. A Covid-19 protocol is in effect for these areas and is supervised by the local authorities. Our Dive Centres remain currently closed and we are working on resuming our operations in mid-July.
After the spike in new cases at end of Ramadan Lombok has now stabilized leveled off to 8-20 confirmed cases per day, with the daily number of recoveries being around the same number.
The airport was closed for a while but has now re-opened with limited operational times, 9am – 3pm. Travellers arriving to Lombok must show a negative Covid-19 test, PCR no older than 7 days or Rapid Test no older than 3 days (the same goes for arrivals by sea). Travelling inter-regionally around NTB (Lombok, Sumbawa, Gili Islands) no further documentation is needed.
Lombok has now transitioned into the “new normal”, meaning shopping centers have re-opened and the local economy is being revived, all under observance of social distancing measures, the plan being fully re-opened by end July
The Balinese government has been very proactive in combatting the disease and numbers remain very limited. Numbers have risen slightly the last week (mainly due to a cluster around 2 markets in the centre of Denpasar and in the western province of Badung, well away from tourist areas and our dive centres). Most of the cases are being found with aggressive combat tracing.
Our Dive Centres are all currently closed, as are both Lembongan, Sanur & Amed. Local tourism (defined as people already in Bali) is permitted from 9th July. Domestic tourism (visitors from other parts of Indonesia) will be permitted from 31st July. International tourism is planned to open on Sept 11th according to the Bali government, although this is obviously dependent upon national govt reopening the borders.
COVID Case Numbers
As of July 8th, the latest figures for Indonesia are 66,266 total cases with 3,309 deaths, of which:
- Bali: 1,940 total cases, 25 deaths (population 4.22 million)
- Lombok: 1,391 total cases, 68 deaths (population 3.167 million)
- Manado (North Sulawesi): 1,218 total cases, 92 deaths (population 2.27 million)
Indonesia has a population of 267 million. In terms of case numbers Indonesia is in the number 26 spot of COVID cases by country globally, with the USA being #1, and Indonesia is number 149 in terms of cases per million inhabitants.
Why are COVID case numbers so low in Indonesia? Is it just a lack of testing?
For sure, there are undiagnosed cases out there, the same as in probably every other country in the world, due to limited testing (the testing has been scaled up a lot though in recent weeks).
One way in which to tell if you have a problem is excess mortality is having a much higher overall death rate than normal. In Jakarta in March there was excess mortality, however, studies in Bali have shown that here we have not seen higher than normal death rates.
Also, from speaking to Doctors who work in various hospitals here, they are not seeing numbers of COVID cases, there is no surge in hospitalisations, there is simply no sign of an epidemic which is just being missed by testing.
So why are numbers so low? Firstly, we are lucky enough to live in a hot and humid climate, which definitely has an effect on the survivability of the Sars-Cov-2 virus (as was the case with Sars-Cov-1). It doesn’t stop transmission, but it reduces it.
However, there are many other factors working in favour of islands like Lombok, Bali, Bunaken and Lembeh (and why the majority of Indonesian cases are in the big cities, especially Jakarta).
Transmission of the virus appears to be greatest in indoor environments, where people are in prolonged contact with each other, or where many people are in close contact. So things like public transport (tube trains, buses, etc) are great vectors for infection, both directly and through fomites (virus transmission via surfaces). Office blocks, apartment buildings, elevators, etc are also all very good ways to transmit the virus.
In many of our islands we don’t have these things! For example in Bali we have no public transport, we have no big office blocks, no large apartment buildings, and a large amount of life is spent outdoors. In combination with the climate it would seem this is really helping to reduce transmission.
The central government has taken firm steps to combat the virus – for example, all non-essential domestic travel between islands has been stopped for the moment which, in a country of 17,000 islands, is no mean feat. During Ramadan millions of people head back to their home villages this was also stopped, which is a huge step for the nation to take.
Local governments have also taken serious steps to limit spread – wearing of masks is now compulsory in most of Bali when outside, there are checkpoints to limit traffic in and out of Denpasar (Bali’s main city), restaurants are enforcing social distancing, the beaches are currently closed, etc. Any passenger arriving at Bali airport now gets a swab test. So although Western news reports about Indonesia are often not the most flattering, officials here have taken the matter seriously and taken strong measures to address it.
So although we do have COVID cases, we have very limited numbers considering the size of population. Outside of the major cities the cases are even less, due at least in part to a combination of climate, cultural and economic factors that mean we don’t have the high risk factors for the spread of the disease.
When and how can I travel to Indonesia?
At the moment Indonesia is not issuing tourist visas, and we don’t have a firm date when this will happen, however there is talk of this happening next month or very early in July. Visitors will probably still need to show a negative test result in their home country, and all airport arrivals will probably be tested on arrival as well, but this would allow for tourism to restart.
Obviously the actions in your home country will matter – if you need to be quarantined on your arrival at home for example – and an important aspect will be international flights. On the last point there are positive signs – Italy is opening international travel on 6th June for example, and just this morning Singapore announced that Changi airport will once again be allowing transit as of June 2nd.
What changes will there be to scuba diving in Indonesia?
The number one priority of any good dive centre is always safety, and this applies also to COVID!! We have had to incorporate changes to both our dive service and our resort/non-diving services as a result of COVID, and you will notice these differences when we reopen.
Additionally we recently received a thorough document from DAN (Divers Alert Network) with medically approved best practice for dive centre operations in relation to COVID, and we are reviewing this with the plan to implement all appropriate measures.
One other change that we like – after a few months without divers and dive boats we’re hoping that the fish life will be even more abundant!!
Due to a fortunate confluence of factors – climate, lack of public transport / big and busy buildings / outdoor lifestyle / sensible governance – it appears that the tourist areas of Indonesia are comparatively safe places with regard to Coronavirus and we are not currently suffering a large-scale epidemic.
Hopefully this will continue and as the world slowly returns to the new normal and travel is again possible, you’ll be able to come diving in Indonesia without having too many corona fears.
If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to fill in the form below and we will get back to you right away!